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Winter storm keeps Franklin County residents at home

A large winter storm has left Franklin County residents stranded at home and many without power as conditions continue to worsen.

The majority of Franklin County roads are iced over, and all roads have been deemed as impassable.

“We do not close roads, but they are all impassable,” said Franklin County EMA Director Mary Hallman Glass. “This means unless it is an emergency or it is an emergency vehicle, you do not need to be out on the road.”

Temperatures began dropping across north Alabama over the weekend, with ice beginning to come in Sunday night.

By Monday morning, many roads were already covered in a layer of ice.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency issued its own encouragement to motorists to stay off roadways and said those who absolutely must drive during the weather event should use extreme caution and expect roadways and bridges/overpasses to be icy. ALEA’s troopers will be on standby to assist during and following the storm once conditions are safe to do so.

ALEA offered the following traffic safety tips to those who must be on the roads:

  • Do not use your vehicle’s cruise control; this could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, especially when crossing frozen or iced over bridges.
  • Monitor local news for information on weather conditions and travel advisories and check road conditions at https://algotraffic.com.
  • Report traffic crashes or other emergencies by calling 911 or using a cell phone to dial *HP (*47) to reach the nearest Highway Patrol post.
  • Remain alert for emergency vehicles and remember to obey Alabama’s “move over” law.
  • Remember weather and roadway conditions can deteriorate quickly. Adapt speeds to existing roadway conditions and be alert to changing weather and the possibility of icy and slippery roads.
  • Pay special attention to bridges and overpasses, which tend to develop hazardous “black ice.”

ALEA also offers these tips as the winter event continues.

  • Outdoor pets should be brought inside.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If you absolutely must go outside, keep the duration of your trips short.
  • The most effective way to stay warm is by wearing multiple layers of clothing.
  • Keep an emergency supply kit in your car if you cannot avoid driving. Be extra careful driving and remain aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not use a stove to supply heat for your home. Likewise, do not use outdoor grills, gas/propane heaters or generators indoors.
  • Do not use generators indoors. Plug appliances directly into your generator. Do not plug your generator into your household’s electrical wiring.
Hallman Glass said power outage reports began coming in early Monday morning, with outages occurring all across the county.

“At this point, there are too many power outages to name,” Hallman Glass said. “They are happening pretty much everywhere. We still have people working hard to get power restored.”

Hallman Glass said power outages have primarily been caused by trees falling on power lines as everything freezes.

“Right now we are working hard to get through this and are just encouraging people to be careful,” Hallman Glass said. “Right now things are only getting worse as everything is just now starting to really freeze.”

When the weather threat has passed, ALEA advises people about the following:

  • Make sure roads are safe before driving. While precipitation might have stopped, roads can remain dangerous to drive on for days afterward.
  • Dress appropriately for the temperature. Continue dressing in layers and avoiding extended exposure.
  • Stay away from downed lines and do not pull tree limbs off downed power lines or make repairs to Alabama Power equipment. Call 1-800-888-2726 and wait for help.

Local school systems were already closed Monday for Presidents Day, but both Russellville City Schools and Franklin County Schools have announced they will remain closed Tuesday as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing throughout the day.

Northwest-Shoals Community College will be closed as well, as will many local businesses and offices.

Among the closures is the county health department, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. People scheduled for COVID-19 booster doses will be worked in over the next two weeks.